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Rex Tillerson: Venezuelan Military May 'Manage a Peaceful Transition'

02 February 2018

Tillerson, in a speech ahead of a visit to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica, also said Russia's growing presence in the region was "alarming as well".

During his speech at the Blanton Museum of Art, Tillerson outlined the U.S.'s commitment to supporting democratic values in Latin America.

Tillerson's first stop in Mexico City will, more likely than not, involve talks focused on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, and the contentious promise made by U.S. President Donald Trump to build a "great, great wall on our southern border".

Tillerson insisted the Trump administration was not advocating "regime change" in Venezuela but said it would be "easiest" if Maduro chose to leave power on his own. "We can make our hemisphere the undisputed seat of global energy supply".

With severe food and medicine shortages and inflation expected to hit 13,000% this year, it is the Venezuelan people that suffer most from the sanctions; indeed, Nicolas Maduro has continued to strengthen his grip on power despite the country's economic crisis.

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"You can not expect to have one without the other", he said. "You can not expect to have one without the other".

"U.S. demands for drugs drives this violence", he said.

"The opioid epidemic we are facing in this country is a clear and tragic representation of how interconnected our hemisphere truly is", Tillerson said.

Luz Maria de la Mora is an expert on US and Latin American diplomacy.

Tillerson responded by saying the USA plans to do its best to support fair judicial systems and law enforcement in Latin American countries. "It is using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit; the question is at what price", according to Reuters.

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"The U.S.is eager to create even deeper relationships with the aim of expanding freedom to more people", Tillerson said.

On his trip, Tillerson will be pushing good governance and anti-corruption efforts as well as promoting trade with the United States, which he hailed as a better alternative to China.

"We just need to get in place a visa program for the Red River, and we just won't issue any visas to the Oklahoma football team", Tillerson said in response.

Also, the Los Angeles Times reports that several Latin American countries, including Mexico, had earlier voiced their concerns about Trump's intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), warning that they may reconsider their cooperation with the U.S. on other matters if the deal breaks down.

"I think there will be a change", said Tillerson, a native Texan who attended high school in Huntsville.

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Rex Tillerson: Venezuelan Military May 'Manage a Peaceful Transition'